There are two items that I wish to comment on this morning. Both of these items show that our Sask Party government is drifting along on major policy issues that need long-term vision.
A little over a week ago I drove up to Craik, Saskatchewan to meet with a group of people from that area about rural health care and where is it going to go in the near future and long term. As you are all aware in the last election campaign, the PC Party campaigned vigorously on the removal of the health regions and putting accountability and responsibility for health care delivery back into the Legislative Assembly.
After the election and during the much-delayed spring budget, we heard a lot of talk from the Premier and the Minister of Finance about "transformational" change. They were particularly talkative about this when speaking about the health budget which consumes over 40% of the entire provincial budget which is now over $600 million in deficit. There was a commitment by the Minister of Health to name an individual to chair this transformational change and as of yet, there is no name, no time lines and no indication of the consultative process to bring this about.
The people that I met with in Craik who represented a number of communities are adamant that they need to be part of the discussion and would like some input into what transformational change will look like down the road. I think that you will find that they will be joined by other communities like Preeceville, Coronach, Maple Creek and others who have seen their health care facilities and human resources seriously degraded because of the bureaucratic structure imposed by the health regions.
It was a very good discussion in Craik and I assured the folks gathered there that the PC Party would continue to push the Sask Party government for accountability and fiscal fairness and responsibility once the health regions are done away with. This process must begin immediately.
The second item I wish to comment on was the government's release last week of their evaluation of the environmental impact statement filed by Yancoal for their proposed potash mine in the Southey area. I'm sure some of you saw the news release issued by the PC Party and some of the articles written by the media in response to that release.
The Sask Party government basically ignored the submissions of 800 groups and individuals and threw the negotiation process back into the laps of local RMs. It is simply unconscionable to ask an RM to sit down and negotiate all of the various terms of reference for a project that could last 50-100 years which is controlled by a foreign government. Yancoal, as I have said many times, is controlled by the Chinese Communist government. It is totally unacceptable to ask local citizens to negotiate those terms of reference and that is basically what the Sask Party government has done on this project.
The Environment Minister was simply repeating the lines given to him by the Ministry of Economy who promised Yancoal this project years ago. The bigger question of should we be selling our resources to foreign controlled companies was not addressed at all nor the fact that we taxpayers have poured billions of dollars of tax credits into our existing companies in order to increase capacity for future demand. Why would we be passing 2.8 million tonnes of capacity per year to someone who has been one of our larger customers?
It appears the Wall government will do anything to back projects which give the illusion of economic activity over the long term because their track record has been so dismal on economic development. This project is in the wrong place, in the wrong time frame and for the wrong reasons. Start thinking about the future Mr. Wall instead of your political hide.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”